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WALKS: Building Community Wellbeing and Resilience

All too often we walk without focusing on where we are, concentrating on where we are going, mindless of what we are doing. In contrast to the rigid, habitual, automatic-pilot thinking that characterizes mind- lessnessmindfulness seems to be a flexible state of mind in which one is very much focused in the present activity deliberately varying focus on that thing or activity and open to new ways of doing and perceiving: To pay undivided attention, but also mentally manipulating the subject matter (Langer, 2000). Mindfulness is thought to help depression, anxiety and stress related illnesses and issues, as part of other treatments such as: MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction training (Kabat-Zinn 1982), treatment of personality disorders- mentalisation based therapy (MBT) mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) relapse prevention for substance abuse, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

We have developed a series of creative walks which have some basis in the practice pf mindfulness and becoming more aware of where we are, in order to support our wellbeing projects.

The Jigsaw Horse: A story about Resilience May 2013

An interactive performed story- led walk, with pop up creative encounters. Focuses on Strengths, talents, positive social connecting, happiness and mindfulness

Mind How You Go 2012 + 13

Mindfulness based photo walks led by a positive psychology practitioner

Treasuring Tooting Walk May 2012

/data/dynamic/spaw/documents/Wellbeing walk map_v4(3).pdf

A walk about 12 protective factors for wellbeing

Summary Draft Report

Led by our human sized Bee Piñata (designed and made by local artist Jeni Walker), the Treasuring Tooting Walk, on May 12th, 2012, meandered its way through Tooting. Walkers were treated to 12 different aspects of local life relating to each of the 12 wellbeing and happiness keys that we developed for the year.

The aim was to enable people to interact with concepts of wellbeing in a non threatening and participatory way which would enable them to learn about and adopt some of the ideas. Each walker was given a wellbeing map which outlined the 12 areas of wellbeing being visited that day.

Building on local community assets, residents led on each of the 12 stops. For example, local artists venture 'Crafty Pint' ran craft workshops at The Tram Shed on the theme of appreciate. 'Sprout Gallery' lead a stretch of walk engaging with walkers through story telling. At the Bingo hall, we ran a laughter session to build on 'Positive Emotions' and at the Hindu Temple we heard about the meaning and purpose of the Hindu Gods. The walk ended at the Transition Pop up Shop with a group poem and a ceremonial bashing of the Bee led by The Mayoress of Wandsworth and MP Sadiq Khan. The shop, for 9 days continued exploring local wellbeing and Belonging through art and participatory appraisal methods.

Delivery: Co- production
A core group of 4, with a delivery group of 10 collectively designed, planned and delivered the walk. Of this group, 1 person each ‘hosted’ each stop- over, being responsible for initiating a conversation about the walk 2 months prior to the start to form a working relationship. That person was responsible on the day for ensuring the venue was ready and also to either present/ lead the theme for the stop over, or introduce the host site lead who would present the theme. This larger delivery team ensured that the walk was grounded in the community and included as many people’s views as possible thus shaped by local people.

The walk was formally measured through validated before and after affect scales as well as a qualitative 'reflections book' carried on the walk which looked at measuring 5 aspects of wellbeing drawn from the 12.
Over 60 people attended the 9-hour walk, 25 people per stop- over
Participants all scored higher on the positive affect scale following the completion of their walk. Allowing for possible confounding variables this suggested that the walk had a positive affect on their happiness and their wellbeing.

Respondents reported:
• Speaking to on average 3 or more new people during each stop over the walk
• Lots of spontaneous chat and good conversations

• The beauty, peace and serenity of the lido and the morning
• The wild life
• Seeing/ bringing into existence new things such as the clock tower, intricate details of the bingo hall, the tram shed, Broadway studios, Muslim school’s message of mutual respect, equality being one of Hinduism’s core beliefs
• The power of a story
• Inspiring people: inspired teacher at the Mosque
• Culture and tradition, generosity. Gentleness at the Khalsa
• The need for space for the imagination, conversation and change

The temples were fascinating and I will be reading various leaflets about Islam to learn more

Understanding of Wellbeing
In what way, if any has your knowledge of wellbeing changed after being on this walk?
• Reinforced the importance of optimizing other aspects of wellbeing
• It s a complex, multi faceted concept but surprisingly simple to achieve
• My understanding is now more fully worked
• That small changes can make a big difference. Working with others is great.

Our 12 keys to happiness are based on cutting edge science including positive psychology. They are:
1. Connect

With neighbours, friends, family, colleagues
We needed to connect to others in order to survive, and science shows us that this is equally important now too. Seeing yourself and your happiness linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and life affirming.

2. Give

Kindness and gratitude
When we give to others it activates areas of the brain associated with pleasure, social connections and trust. We feel safer and happier. Seeing yourself and your happiness linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

3. Vitality

Being active and eating well
Find a way of exercising and moving that feels good to you. Walk, run, dance, and swim. Try to ensure that some of the time you huff and puff a bit, so you know you are really moving! If your work is sedentary, try to move around at least every 2 hours. Go and get a drink, fidget, and stretch. 
Eating well can affect your mood, raise it and dampen it.

4. Appreciate

Savor, engage, mindfulness, peak experience and transcendence, living in the present, being aware, taking notice, being curious and self-aware
Since the present moment is all we are guaranteed, it is important to appreciate that moment, as often our thoughts are somewhere else. Be curious of the world around you. Remark on the unusual, notice the changing seasons, and savor the moment. Be aware of what you are feeling and reflect on your experiences. This will help you appreciate what matters to you. Really engage and be absorbed in what you are doing.

5. Learn

Learning new things will make you more confident and help improve your self-esteem. Keep learning, as you get older to help you keep your mind sharp.

6. Change

Pursuing Goals, autonomy
Having perceived control is essential to our sense of happiness. If we feel out of control, we can see this as an attack on our vulnerability; becoming stressed, anxious, angry and guilty. Having goals for things we want to do and working towards them is an important part of being human. The path towards our goals may not always run smoothly or be easy, but having goals, whether big or small, is part of what makes life good. It points us in the direction we want to go and gets us interested and engaged, all of which are good for our overall happiness. Satisfaction for a job well done.

7. ‘Spring back’

Resilience and growth mindsets
Emotional resilience is widely considered to be a key element of positive mental health, and is usually defined as the extent to which a person can adapt to and/or recover in the face of adversity This is the ability to cope well with bad times and change and be able to ‘spring back’. Use helpful thinking and social support, face personal challenge with courage, accept sadness; don’t believe in the worst possible scenario. It is about praise for working hard and putting in effort, rather than always focusing on the end result.

8. Talents

Strengths, skills
Strengths are personal characteristics that allow us to perform well or at our personal best. But, it's not enough just to know what our strengths are; we have to put them into practice. When we use our strengths we are usually energized and feel at our best. We find ourselves drawn to using them in different areas of our lives for example at work, at home and during our leisure activities. They are areas where we learn fast and often (but not always) others will recognize them in us too. 

9. Optimism

Benefit finding, gain and learn
How do you think and feel about the past, the present and the future? Do you tend to see the good side and the opportunities or do you tend to focus on the problems and things that might go wrong? How realistic are you being? All of this matters for how happy and satisfied we are with our lives. People who are optimistic tend to be happier, healthier and cope better when times are tough. So there are a lot of advantages to looking at the world through a positive lens and focusing on the things that are good

10. Positive Emotions

Joy, amusement, contentment, curiosity, creativity
Evidence shows that experiencing and building on the positive emotions you have when you are happy can support your wellbeing and help buffer against the negative things that might happen, such as stressful situations. It pays to laugh and find the funny side of things, feel joy, be grateful, be creative, curious and content.

11. Community Assets

Participation and inclusion
A community has resources and assets that can be drawn on in good and bad times. Including people and actively participating with shared values can enhance individual wellbeing. Communities with high levels of social capital, for example trust, reciprocity, participation and cohesion have important benefits for mental health. Social relationships and social engagement, in the broadest sense, are very significant factors in explaining differences in life satisfaction, both for individuals and communities.

12. Meaning

Purpose and making a difference
You have a purpose. You were born for a reason. Your life purpose defines you. It helps you know who you truly are. Having concern for others, doing good and having a sense of fulfillment helps find meaning. Being absorbed by what you do and being authentically motivated and having something worth living for can help sustain happiness.

Treasuring Tooting  Group Poem

30,000 Friends in Tooting
Stillness, Light, Chatter, Love.
Observe, Experience light and dark (Dopamine!)
And talk optimism skills.
Discover; enrich us with difference and diversity
Varied, concentration, a 3000-year-old tool!
Encouraging friendly feet
A mission accomplished!

Group poem made by the walkers of Treasuring Tooting at the end of the 9-hour walk. 12.


Summary Draft Report: May Walk 

What is wellbeing?

Wellbeing is a complex, active system with many factors that energizes and protects wellbeing. There are many definitions however, it seems characterized by the satisfaction of material and physical objective needs required for survival, such as food, shelter, and clothing; and subjective needs or the emotional and psychological fostering needed for flourishing. (Prilleltensky, 2005). It is a broad concept including happiness, and a range of issues that contribute to a positive mental health such as having social skills, cognitive and emotional resources, having meaning and purpose (Friedli 2007) see figure 1.1. However, the positive emotions that derive from being happy can also lead to better wellbeing as they can broaden people’s responses and build on their resources. (Fredrickson, 2001).
To further complicate the definition of wellbeing, the terminology has been defined by different disciplines in different ways. In positive psychology, subjective well being, often interchangeable with happiness, is defined by people’s perceptions of the quality and satisfaction with their lives (Diener, 1999). Ryan and Deci’s (2001) “self-determination theory” proposes that subjective well-being is experienced when essential psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness are satisfied. They characterize well being as hedonic affective and cognitive components of subjective well being and added eudemonic elements of vitality, self-actualization (Ryan & Deci, 2001) and self-esteem and a lack of depression and anxiety (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Others such as Carr (2004) suggest eudemonic wellbeing, as being comprised of authentic gratification in pursuit of reaching one’s full potential, whereas hedonic wellbeing is that of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

However, all definitions when compared, suggest that relatedness, social functioning or positive social relationships are one of the determinants in having good wellbeing. Understanding wellbeing and its definitions for a policy maker, is important that there can be a shift f a pathological to an asset based view point of health. Engaging people in their own health actions so they are intrinsically motivated to improve their own wellbeing can be developed through strengths based approaches.

Understanding that improved happiness or subjective well- being at a personal level can not only impact on the individual, but can also have profound effects on their community, is of importance when discussing ways of improving community wellbeing. The positive emotions that derive from being happy can lead to better wellbeing, (Fredrickson, 2001) through the excretion of several hormones. When positive emotions are derived from connecting with people, the Oxytocin produced contributes to our desire to build connections to others and is secreted in response to touch and socially connecting. It is suggested it counterbalances the effects of stress within the human socializing process (Dickerson & Kemeny,. 2004). Not only has this the potential to increase sociability but also increases trust and helpfulness (Lyubomirsky, King and Diener 2005).

It could seem too obvious addressing wellbeing through improved opportunities for people to relate and socially connect in order to improve not only individual wellbeing, but also community wellbeing, however there is much research, which seems pointing in that direction.

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